By Justin Prince
After finishing in 20th place or worse in three consecutive races, Alexis Newsome has finally rebounded to win in the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel.
The Factory Backed driver led 68 of 133 laps in the KARNOX Charlotte 200 Presented by Chris Fowler Racing on Oct. 4.
Newsome beat Craig Forsythe by more than eight seconds to take the checkered flag.
Luis Gonzalez Nuñez, Trevor Malone and Joe Branch completed the top five.
It is Newsome’s third victory of the 2021 campaign.
“It feels good to finally break the streak of bad luck and of taking myself out,” said Newsome from HyperX Victory Lane. “I just tried to be careful tonight.”
Factory Backed controlled the tempo of the race at iRacing’s virtual Charlotte Motor Speedway early. Newsome and Robert Maleczka III, who started in fourth and fifth place respectively, quickly made their way to the bottom line around the track, riding behind leaders Mike Rigney and Matt Wagner as they fought back and forth.
Then, chaos ensued down the backstretch behind them on Lap 11.
While battling side-by-side for sixth position, Team RaceVerse Orange driver Caleb Benci pushed up the track into the side pod of Tony Showen. The contact immediately sent the Adrenaline Motorsports car sliding coming out of Turn 2 in front of the pack.
After narrowly avoiding Alexander van de Sandt at the top of the track, Showen spun towards the inside lines and into the path of championship contender Matt Taylor. Nick DeGroot, Ron Hacker and Dakota DeMaegd also crashed into Showen, sending Dallara DW12 parts flying across the circuit.
The only drivers who did not pit during the caution flag were Wagner and Rigney.
Seconds later, the age of the tires proved to be important. With 11-lap fresher tires, Maleczka III and Newsome quickly drove by Wagner and Rigney moments after the restart. By Lap 42, the two Factory Backed cars had pulled away from the rest of the field by more than two seconds.
The next caution came out during green flag pit stops on Lap 59. Chris Fowler, who had been running inside the top five prior to his service, was running on his own when he slammed into the outside wall coming off Turn 4. The contact immediately broke his right side pod, pinballing him into the quad oval grass. Then, after bouncing off the ground two times, he decided to park his car on the apron in Turn 1. His car was close enough to other competitors that it triggered the second and final caution of the night.
At the time of the yellow, only Newsome and Dean Moll were on the lead lap. Several drivers, including Maleczka III, Forsythe and Nuñez, had to take the wave around.
Following the restart, Maleczka III quickly charged past Moll on the inside of the track on Lap 67.
Moll was able to keep up with the two Factory Backed cars until Lap 80. While exiting Turn 4, Moll aero-pushed up the track into the outside wall, sending him to the grass. Moll immediately cut through the infield, electing to park his car the rest of the night. Moll went on to finish 16th.
Newsome maintained the lead until Lap 99, when she came in for her final pit stop.
Maleczka III then followed up with the biggest mistake of his season so far during his service.
When coming around the apron through Turns 1-2, Maleczka III ran towards the edge of the blue line separating it from the racing line. His tires grazed the blue line in the apex of the corner, triggering an unsafe pit exit penalty. Maleczka III was given an in-sim drive through penalty for the mistake.
Maleczka III went on to finish in 13th place.
Next round, the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel has its final short track race of the 2021 campaign, the HyperX 175 at Richmond at iRacing’s virtual Richmond Raceway. Coverage will begin at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and can be watched on tape delay on ESTV on Oct. 25.